Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

A River of words: The Story of William Carlos Williams

A River of words: The Story of William Carlos Williams

Jen Bryant
Illustrator:   Melissa Sweet 
Non Fiction Picture Book
For ages 7 to 9
Eerdmans, 2008   ISBN: 0802853021

When he was still a boy Willie Williams began to write poetry. At first he wrote poems in the classic forms using rhyme and meter to guide his pen, but he found that when he did this his poems did not express what he wanted them to say. They did not fit his dreams and the images in his mind. And so Willie began to write poems in his own way, ignoring the rules of conventional poetry. He was happy with the result and went on to write many poems about things he saw or did.

Unfortunately Willie could not make a living writing poetry. So he decided to become a doctor, liking the idea of doing something that helped others. He was very hardworking and took great pains to give his patients his full attention, but at the end of the day Willie would take a little time for himself to write his poetry.

In this very special book Jen Bryant’s lyrical words and Melissa Sweet’s wonderfully distinctive artwork come together to tell the story of one of America’s most singular poets. Readers will not only find out what William Carlos Williams’ life was like, but they will also get to read some of his poems, which Melissa Sweet has incorporated into her multimedia artwork. Stunningly presented and written with great care and sensitivity, this splendid picture book biography will surely encourage readers to explore William Carlos Williams’ work further.

At the back of the book readers will find a time line, a list of the poems highlighted in the book, an author’s note, and an illustrator’s note.